Tag Archives: Kickstarter campaign

Astoria filmmakers turn to Kickstarter to fund ‘dialogue-free,’ 12-part film


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Cynthia Angel

Two Astoria filmmakers are hoping to reach their goal that will allow them to set an acclaimed music producer’s debut solo album to film.

Cynthia Angel and Dominic Lahiff, the minds behind D L A Films, are coming together with producer Neil Davidge – known for his work with Massive Attack, and the “Halo 4” video game – to create the mystery revenge thriller audiovisual film “Slo Light.”

They turned to Kickstarter, with a goal of $70,000, to raise funds needed for the preproduction, production and post-production of the film.

Since launching on Thursday, the campaign has already raised $5,156.

“It’s been a really interesting process. We’ve been working on it for two years,” said Angel, whose dream has been to produce her own film. “We’re really excited and happy to be able to reach an audience and make it happen. The story is going to be really cool.”

The trio first came together when working on “Dark Universe” – in which Lahiff was the director/writer, Angel was the producer, and Davidge was the music producer – for the American Natural History Museum. The short film is narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson and is still on view at the Hayden Planetarium at the museum.

After this project, Angel and Lahiff were asked to work on a music video for Davidge and while working on the video developed the idea for a cinematic album. For the next year, Lahiff worked on a story for the film and the two filmmakers then got back together with Davidge.

“Our visions are aligned and we have the same taste and like working together, and from there stems the idea to make a film together,” Angel said about working with Lahiff.

The film will be divided into 12 chapters, which will be released online during the course of 12 weeks. Each chapter will be set to a track from Davidge’s debut album, “Slo Light.” It will have no dialogue and will be shot in 35mm film.

Screen Shot Slo Light

“We want to keep that [35mm] format alive. A lot of times people think film is too expensive so we want to prove that it can still be done and make a beautiful film,” Angel said.

For Angel, creating this film is a dream come true because she always hoped to be able to produce her own film.

“It feels amazing, it’s kind of terrifying but really exciting at the same time but it feels really good. I feel all the experiences I’ve gained throughout the years have led up to this moment,” Angel said.

If their project is fully funded, the plans are to shoot the film in the fall, with a slated release date for early spring of 2016.

For more information or to donate to the Kickstarter campaign, click here. To stay updated on the project visit twitter.com/slolightfilmfacebook.com/slolightfilm or dlafilms.com.

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Astoria group turns to community to raise money for film project


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Astoria Stand Up

One Astoria organization is turning to the diverse community it calls home to help release a film and soundtrack addressing the issue of social inequality in today’s world.

Astoria Stand Up was formed a little over a year ago and was born out of the idea of a short film called “Astoria Park,” written and directed by Paras Chaudhari and Chrysovalantis Stamelos.

Chaudhari and Stamelos, now Astoria residents, came up with the concept of the film in 2003 while they were students at Syracuse University and had the idea of creating a movie set in a basketball court, where opposing sides clashed heads.

However the “purpose” of the film wasn’t discovered until Chaudhari and Stamelos moved to Astoria and, as a South Asian American and Greek American, they decided to focus the script on examining the hatred and inequalities faced in a neighborhood as diverse as Astoria.

“As soon as the concept of the film happened we knew it would be a New York City film,” Chaudhari said. “Astoria Park represents this one big place in the neighborhood that no matter who you are and where you come from, you come to this place to relax and be with the community.”

What began as a four-minute music video turned into a half-hour short film following two enemies divided by their cultures and desires to own the right to a local basketball court. These two characters come into contact with other characters who also struggle with issues in sexuality, racism, identity, faith and how the problems are dealt with on and off the court.

“We weren’t seeing fair and accurate representation of ourselves in the mainstream media. Not only was it not fair, it was also dangerous representation,” Chaudhari said. “We wanted to take a gritty look at the socio-cultural shift that is continuing to happen and pick up especially in this neighborhood.”

The short film has since been featured at film festivals and has made headlines throughout the world.

However, for the writers, there was still more to do and after having spent some time trying to find private investors to fund the film they decided to instead turn to the community they represent – which is where Astoria Stand Up was born.

The group has since become a platform for underrepresented perspectives and communities and movement of artists fighting social inequalities simply by coming together and representing the change they want to see, according to Chaudhari.

“Astoria Stand Up has become its own entity and will continue to be a platform for underrepresented perspectives,” he said.

The group started a Kickstarter campaign last month to fund their project called “Harmony & Dissonance,” which looks to make “Astoria Park” into a feature film and also put together a soundtrack for the movie. The campaign has a goal set at $300,000 and ends on June 21.

The soundtrack, which will be called “Harmony Session” and includes ten tracks, will bring together poets and musicians of diverse backgrounds to collaborate on tracks that each will represent an act of social change.

A percentage of each track sold will then go toward an organization that is “making a difference in the world.”

Chaudhari added that he wants anyone interested in making a donation or anyone who has questions to reach out to the group because the main goal throughout the process has been to involve the community.

“For anyone that participates in this they are more than participants,” he said. “The people who contribute to this will be the ones that say, ‘Hey, I made this happen.’”

To donate to the Kickstarter, click here. For more information on Astoria Stand Up, visit www.astoriastandup.com.

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Kickstarter goal reached to fund Dennis Hopper’s final film


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of "The Last Film Festival"

The dream of one Queens native to finish up what will be known as the late Dennis Hopper’s last movie is closer to becoming a reality.

As of Monday morning, the Kickstarter campaign for the post-production of the film “The Last Film Festival,” by filmmaker and Forest Hills native Linda Yellen, surpassed its goal of $90,000, nine days before its deadline.

“I had tears in my eyes as well as smiling, I keep seeing Dennis smiling,” said Yellen about how she felt when she found out at 4 a.m. that the goal had been surpassed. “I have such immense gratitude. I have just fallen in love with people all over the world who are so open to making things possible. They changed our lives.”

According to Yellen, the online campaign was one of the hardest experiences she has gone through, but was amazing and gratifying because she said she felt she was making friends all around the world.

“[They’re] kind of saying, ‘We love you, Dennis,’” Yellen said. “People are saying, ‘We do remember and we want to see Dennis.’”

Linda Yellen on set directing "The Last Film Festival."

Linda Yellen on set directing “The Last Film Festival.”

The funds raised by the campaign will go toward all post-production aspects that are required to finish the film, including using movie clips to replace Hopper in remaining scenes.

“The Last Film Festival,” which was written by Yellen and Michael Leeds, began filming in 2009 with a cast including Hopper, Jacqueline Bisset, JoBeth Williams, Chris Kattan, Donnell Rawlings, Katrina Bowden, Joseph Cross and Leelee Sobieski.

The movie follows a Hollywood producer, played by Hopper, whose recent film was rejected by every festival except the small town festival called the O’Hi Film Festival.

All of the movie was filmed in Queens, with the majority of the scenes shot in parts of Forest Hills including Forest Hills High School, which Yellen attended as a teen.

Only a few scenes shy of finishing the project, Hopper became ill and later died of cancer at age 74 in 2010.

Although the actor’s passing left an emptiness and the film was set aside for a while, Yellen decided to pick it back up this year, which marks the fifth anniversary of Hopper’s death.

Yellen added that even though the goal has been surpassed she encourages people to keep donating because the additional funds will go into releasing the film earlier than anticipated and making it “as good as it possibly can be.”

“We would really like people to support it and be part of the little history we are making,” she said. “Every dollar truly means another person is a fan of Dennis Hopper and this movie.”

The Kickstarter’s deadline is on April 9. To donate, click here.

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Queens native starts campaign to fund Dennis Hopper’s final film


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of "The Last Film Festival"

One filmmaker is turning to Kickstarter and the Queens community she grew up in to help put the finishing touches on what will be known as the late Dennis Hopper’s last movie, filmed completely in the “World’s Borough.”

Linda Yellen is one of the creative minds behind the comedy “The Last Film Festival,” which began filming in 2009 with a cast including Hopper, known for the classic film “Easy Rider,” Golden Globe-winner Jacqueline Bisset, JoBeth Williams, Chris Kattan, Donnell Rawlings, Katrina Bowden, Joseph Cross and Leelee Sobieski.

The film, written by Yellen and Michael Leeds, follows a Hollywood producer, played by Hopper, whose recent film was rejected by every film festival except a small town festival named the O’Hi Film Festival.

Although the movie surrounds a small town, it was actually filmed in Queens, some parts in Astoria and others in Forest Hills, the neighborhood Yellen grew up in.

“I loved growing up in Queens. It was so accessible to Manhattan but it also had the feeling of small town and community. It was always so friendly,” Yellen said. “It was a wonderful thing to sort of return home.”

The majority of the film was shot in Forest Hills, with scenes taking place at Forest Hills High School, where Yellen attended school. During the 2009 spring break, the actors were housed in the high school classrooms, which replaced the use of dressing rooms and trailers.

“There was always a great appreciation for the arts and culture in Forest Hills,” Yellen said. “I learned about the art of filming and directing in Forest Hills.”

The cast of "The Last Film Festival."

The cast of “The Last Film Festival.”

Although Yellen no longer lives in the borough, she said she is constantly traveling back to visit her mother, who still lives in the same building Yellen grew up in and who had a small part in the film as a “biker chick.”

During the filming, Yellen recalls walking the streets of Forest Hills during lunch with Hopper, who would take pictures of everywhere he went in the borough.

“A lot of those early experiences helped shape my identity and it gave a special pleasure to Dennis Hopper. He got to learn a lot about me as we took a lot of those walks,” Yellen said. “He loved [Queens].”

Tragedy then struck when, just a few scenes short of finishing the film, Hopper became ill and later died of cancer at the age of 74 in May of 2010.

“He was a picture of health and vitality and he just gives a multilevel comedic act [in the film],” Yellen said. “He had no idea he was sick; we had no idea he was sick.”

Hopper’s passing left a hole in the hearts of the cast and crew, and the film was set aside for a while until Yellen decided to pick it back up this year, which will mark the fifth anniversary of Hopper’s death.

However, in order to finish the film, Yellen made the decision to turn to Kickstarter, with a goal of $90,000, because she felt it was a way to get to the fans directly. The crowdfunding site also followed Hopper’s idea of “always looking for ways to go around the system.” As of March 25, $64,174 had been pledged.

The funds raised by the campaign will go toward all post-production aspects that are required to finish the film, including using movie clips to replace Hopper in scenes.

“This is a way of [the fans] saying we want this and we want to say we support this film and this comedy,” Yellen said. “This picture was made as a labor of love. Just the pleasure of doing good work and wanting it out there and wanting people to laugh a lot.”

The Kickstarter’s deadline is on April 9. To donate click here.

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Astoria friends raising money to get hot sauce in stores, restaurants


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Fez Production

A group of Astoria friends are turning to Kickstarter to help them bring the heat.

Matthew Konchan, Joe Muscente and James Nestor are the creators behind the artisanal all-natural, low-sodium and gluten-free hot sauce called Chi-Cho Sauce.

For the past two years, the trio, who have backgrounds in finance and marketing, have spent hours combining and testing flavors until they came up with the “spicy and sweet” flavor, which creators said is “the best hot sauce you’ll ever have.”

“We wanted to do something different, something that isn’t going to kill you,” Konchan said. “It’s not a novelty. It looks presentable.”

After selling and giving away more than 1,000 bottles of the sauce for free at local markets, including the LIC Flea & Food, and receiving positive feedback, the Astoria residents started a Kickstarter campaign to help continue making the sauce and selling it online, as well as launch the product in stores and restaurants.

“We want something that is nice that you can put out on the table of a nice restaurant,” Konchan said.

The goal of the campaign, which ends on Sept. 12, is $8,003 and the funds will go towards manufacturing, operating, distribution and marketing costs.

Chi-Cho Sauce — the name comes from a college friend’s slang name — is created using local ingredients and cooked at a commercial kitchen in Flushing. Every bottle of the sauce is individually stamped with a batch number and “born on” date.

You can purchase a 6 oz. bottle of Chi-Cho Sauce for $9 on chichosauce.com and also find recipes and food pairings for the sauce.

“We want to maintain the brand,” Konchan said. “A fun and young company.”

To donate to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.

 

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Queens Silk Road food tour reaches Kickstarter goal


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image Courtesy of Adam Edwards


Foodies, get ready: a two-day international Queens food tour is coming to the borough thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Astoria resident Adam Edwards turned to the online crowdfunding site last month in hopes of raising enough money to turn his project called “The Silk Road & Spice Route of Queens” into a reality, The Queens Courier first reported.

“I always wanted to do something with food that really connects with people, and Queens is a unique food destination in itself,” Edwards previously told The Courier.

Edwards’ campaign came to an end on July 15 and raised a total of $2,175, surpassing his goal of $2,000.

The idea came to Edwards, originally from Pittsburgh, upon exploring Astoria and seeing the different restaurants featuring international cuisines, such as Mombar located at 25-22 Steinway St.

During the food tour, which will take place on August 10 and 17, Edwards said he hopes to highlight the borough’s diversity and modern versions of food that could be found along the ancient Silk Road and spice routes that connected Europe, Asia and Africa.

Participants will be able to ride a trolley from midtown Manhattan, at 8th Avenue between 54th and 55th streets, into Queens.

“Learn about the history of Queens and the lands where people immigrated from to call New York City home as we try authentic food from the old world right in our backyard,” said Edwards on the food tour’s official website.

The first Sunday, August 10, starting at noon, the tour will focus on the Spice Route of Queens dining at restaurants specializing in Italian, Egyptian, South Indian, Malaysian and Cantonese cuisines.

The following week, participants will explore the Silk Road tasting food from Greece, the Middle East, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Central/Western China.

Tickets are currently on sale for $150 as an early-bird special, up to 10 days before the events, and the full price of the tickets is $200 per day.

All proceeds from the food tour will go toward supporting the nonprofit Upwardly Global, for which Edwards has organized fundraisers over the past few years.

For more information click here.

 

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LIC nonprofit reaches Kickstarter goal


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy Local Project

One Long Island City nonprofit will be able to keep its home after a successful online campaign.

Local Project, a nonprofit arts organization, started the fundraising on Kickstarter last month with a goal of raising $6,100 in order to help pay two months of rent. As of Tuesday, June 8, with three days still left in the campaign, the group surpassed the goal.

“I feel extremely accomplished. I’m extremely happy and super hopeful that everything is going to continue to go great,” said Carolina Peñafiel, founder and director of Local Project. “This is just a great thing for people to feel empowered and driven to continue working on our plan. It feels safe for a little bit.”

After having to move from its headquarters located at 45-10 Davis St. in Long Island City inside the warehouse of 5Pointz building, the group faced a 50 percent rent increase when making the move to a new site at 11-27 44th Rd.

Now with having met the goal, the organization will have time to move to its next step in creating a strategic plan and put it into place to ensure it thrives for more years to come, Peñafiel said.

Even with the Kickstarter campaign coming to an end on July 12, the group will still continue to collect money through fundraising and also an “El Hot Dog Boogie Rent Party” on Friday, July 11, starting at 7 p.m.

“Anything that comes in is extra and it helps us even more. It’s not over, that money will go to a safe place and keep us safe for a little longer,” Peñafiel said.

The party will feature music by local DJs, hot dogs and sauces by Pao & Cha Cha restaurant located at 23-03 Astoria Blvd., bread from Tom Cat Bakery located at 43-05 10th St., and beer from Lagunitas Brewing Company. There will be a $20 deal for two hot dogs and unlimited beer.

“It’s a way of celebrating to say thank you to people and celebrate. It’s part of the summer season at Local Project,” Peñafiel said.

Local Project also has a brand-new shared office/studio/co-working space for rent. The space was built using recycled materials and created by Long Island City artist Cristian Torres. For more information on the space click here.

Since starting in 2003, Local Project has offered exhibitions, mentoring programs, classes, co-working space, residencies for artists and much more.

Future plans for Local Project includes year-long exhibitions, events, a co-working space, mentorship for new curators and artists, a continuing partnership and student internships with the Information Technology High School in Long Island City and MoMA, and affordable creative workshops.

To donate to the Kickstarter until July 12, click here.

 

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Astoria resident looks to fund Queens Silk Road food tour


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of Adam Edwards

Adam Edwards is turning to Kickstarter to make his idea of bringing a two-day international food tour to Queens a reality.

Edwards’ project, called “The Silk Road & Spice Route of Queens,” hopes to highlight the borough’s diversity and modern versions of the foods that could be found along the ancient Silk Road and spice routes that connected Europe, Asia and Africa.

“I always wanted to do something with food that really connects with people, and Queens is a unique food destination in itself,” said Edwards, who calls himself a “history buff.”

The idea came to him upon exploring Astoria and seeing the different restaurants featuring international cuisines, such as Mombar located at 25-22 Steinway St.

“Walking through the beautiful entrance and tasting the amazing food by Chef Moustafa El Sayed really transported me back to ancient times and I want to share that feeling with others,” he said.

The Astoria resident, originally from Pittsburgh, said the biggest challenge is getting people to support his campaign without knowing an exact date of the tour.

The money donated to the Kickstarter will go toward a shuttle bus, which will serve as transportation between restaurants, and for prizes and reservations at the restaurants.

If he reaches the Kickstarter campaign’s goal of $2,000 by July 15, Edwards said, the two-day tour, slated to happen the second weekend of August, will cover five restaurants per day. The estimated price per day is $200.

The Saturday of the tour would be dedicated to the spice route, concentrating on Malaysian, Southern Indian and Egyptian cuisines. On Sunday, participants will go down the Silk Road, tasting food from Uzbekistan, western China and more.

“Queens is the most diverse place on earth,” Edwards said. “Certainly in the United States it’s the most diverse. I hope people can travel a little bit in their own backyard.”

Additional funds will also go toward supporting the nonprofit Upwardly Global, for which Edwards has organized fundraisers over the past few years.

To donate to the Kickstater, click here.

 

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Jackson Heights filmmaker turns to Kickstarter for new flick


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Alex Webb

Actor Alex Webb has gone behind the camera to write, direct and produce award-winning films. Now, he is turning to Kickstarter to get his new film rolling.

The Jackson Heights resident has worked with actors such Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey and Ben Affleck and has appeared in the Netflix series “House of Cards” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

Aside from acting, Webb began working on film production with his first picture “The Girl in 2C,” which received a silver medal at WorldFest, an international indie film festival in Houston. His most recent short film “Hove (The Wind)” received the Panavision New Filmmaker Award and was selected for several international film festivals.

“The interesting thing I didn’t realize is that all along I had writing and directing right in my pocket,” Webb said. “I was much happier when those times came to be creative and start creating your own work.”

Webb decided the next step in his production career would be to create a full-length feature and came up with his newest thriller and dark comedy flick called “To The Flame.”

“[I wanted to] try to make a story that is super intriguing, weird and surprising and — on the production end — simple,” Webb said. “Make [a film] that would really lend itself to a micro-budget.”

On May 7, Webb created a 30-day Kickstarter project to help raise $25,000 in funds to make his feature film a reality. The money raised would go toward production equipment and hiring the remaining cast and crew members, as well as helping to keep location and travel needs to a minimum.

“The great thing about Kickstarter is you are raising awareness about your project before even starting it,” Webb said. “You get these people already hooked on the project and you’re getting an audience before it even starts.”

The film, which already has Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis and actor Bob Balaban slotted for cameos, was inspired by the works of directors Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch. It follows two college students, Kyle and Penny, and their interaction with two neighbors, played by Webb and his wife Shirleyann Kaladjian, for a school assignment. The project then takes the students into the couple’s “dark and twisted world,” Webb said.

Shooting for the film is expected to begin in early July, with some scenes possibly shot in Queens, and a release date is slated for late this year or early 2015.

To watch a teaser for “To The Flame” and donate to the Kickstarter, which ends June 6, click here.

 

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Play ‘keepingabreast’ to run in LIC during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BRADLEY HAWKS

You can’t miss her.  Cameran Hebb is one of those charismatic, effortless beauties who kind of immediately captures your eye in any crowd.  And not just because she is wearing a T-shirt with the words “boobie trapped” printed in neon pink.

When you enter The Queens Kickshaw, where she is a barista and bartender, her warm smile is apt to melt your heart.  And her charisma can instantly become passion, conviction and authority.

When Hebb first auditioned for “keepingabreast,” a new play written by Jackie Rosenfeld, she instantly knew this piece of theater was something special.

After playing the lead character, Mina, during the play’s premiere at the Cherry Lane Theater as part of the 2012 Fringe Festival, she also knew that the final curtain should not fall on the show during the festival.

“The audience kept saying things like, ‘this is the way theater should be done,’” she explains, “and it just confirmed what I already knew.”

She immediately envisioned a next life for the play—which opens with a young woman being advised by her doctor to have a mastectomy after failed chemotherapy.  The story is told through a series of vulnerable, sometimes sexy, sometimes hilarious, but always poignant vignettes chronicling the woman’s journey to decide what course of treatment is best.

Hebb reprises her role as the cancer-stricken lead character, with multiple other roles played in rotation by Lyndsey Anderson and Andy Ingalls—who portray family members, strangers, friends, even a drag queen.  The new production is directed by Sharone Halevy.

Upon receiving a startup grant from the Queens Council on the Arts, as well as a sponsorship by Long Island City’s The Secret Theatre, Hebb found herself just a Kickstarter campaign away from breathing new life into the piece—this time with an outreach component (you can still contribute on the kickstarter page). A fundraiser held by The Queens Kickshaw also helped with funding.

The new staging, this time produced by Hebb herself, will run during national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, from October 18 through the 26.  It will be held in the “Little Secret,” a 50-seat black box theater that lends itself perfectly to the intimacy of the piece.

As an outreach, a select number of seats will be reserved for those in the community suffering or impacted by cancer who otherwise might not be able to afford tickets.  Seats for the public sell for just $15.

“I mainly just wanted to open a dialogue,” says Hebb. “In a world where we so easily disconnect, this play pushes past that in way that is so human, alive and authentic.”

To learn more, go to http://keepingabreast.wix.com/keepingabreast ; $15

 

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